Subscribe to our Blog

How to Hire an Interim CFO and Understand the Values They Bring

Blog Categories:
December 3, 2021
Reading Time:
5 minutes
Lynn's diverse perspectives on business stem from her extensive experience as a management consultant - her role as a beloved wife, mother and grandmother adds further depth to her insights.

There are times when a company needs to bring in outside expertise for a short while.

An interim CFO job is a financial consulting job that requires short-term but high-level financial expertise.

Let’s look at when it would make sense to bring in a CFO consultant and what value they might add to your company. And then, we’ll discuss how to find the perfect interim CFO for your needs.

What Is An Interim CFO, And Why Would You Need One?

A CFO is a top-level executive responsible for the company’s financial direction. Why would a company want an interim person in this vital role?

CFO Consultants for Large Organizations

There are times when an interim CFO is a perfect solution for large organizations:

  • Filling the role after a CFO exits until a permanent replacement can be found
  • Working alongside the current CFO, taking over the additional work involved with major restructuring or changing initiatives, mergers and acquisitions, or special plans for investors
  • Introducing new and upgraded financial systems and processes

Interim CFOs for Small to Medium-Sized Companies

Smaller companies generally function well enough with a controller, accountant, or small financial team.

Additional high-level skills may be needed for specific projects such as developing a financial strategy, raising capital and building investor relationships, or aligning business and financial operations.

An expert might also be needed to provide ongoing oversight and development of the in-house financial team or undertake tasks during busy financial seasons.

Smaller organizations do not have enough work and usually can't afford to pay for a full-time person to fulfil roles.

“An interim executive is much more than just a consultant.”

What Values They Bring?

An interim executive is much more than just a consultant. Interims may analyze, plan, and make recommendations like consultants. But they also have decision-making power, run day-to-day business, and implement plans and suggestions.

An interim CFO may be based full-time at the company for the duration of the project.

Alternatively, an interim CFO job may be filled on a project or even a fractional basis, providing just a certain number of hours per month or financial cycle. This model offers flexibility and makes financial sense. You avoid hiring and ongoing employment costs while still having the experience and qualifications of a full-time CFO.

Fractional CFOs might add additional value because they have several clients from different industries, and thus, they bring new insights and perspectives to your company.

You may want someone with specialist knowledge of your industry. Online consulting platforms have made it easy to find the person with the background you need – and geographic location does not matter.

The outsourced model has another benefit. You can hire different interim CFOs to meet specific needs. For example, you may need a merger and acquisition specialist for one project, an accounting software expert for another, and perhaps an investment specialist for a third. Most full-time CFOs will not have high-level expertise in all these areas.

And, finally, using an outsourced approach for a CFO can reflect efficient employment decisions. It meets lean management principles and moves towards a hybrid employment model, with a mix of full-time, part-time, contract, and freelance staff.

What To Consider Before You Hire Them?

Hiring someone for an Interim CFO job doesn’t have the same cost and risk as hiring somebody permanent.

However, this is a sensitive financial consulting job, involving access to a company’s most confidential information. The CFO consultant must also be trusted to give strategic advice and perhaps introduce new approaches that can impact a company’s future. And you are looking for someone who will quickly understand your business, systems, and market.

In addition, a person in a CFO position must fit in with the senior executive team, the finance department staff, and cross-functional managers.

And, lastly, you want to be sure that the organization will be in a better state after the interim person leaves. It would be counterproductive if the new permanent appointee had to pick up the pieces of poor decisions and actions from a temporary placement.

How To Correctly Hire?

There are two sides to correctly hiring for an interim CFO job. One is to choose the best recruitment channels. The second is to ensure proper onboarding.

Recruitment Channels

Recruitment agencies, advertisements, and word-of-mouth are the traditional routes to fill interim positions.

However, the online consulting marketplace has added an entirely new channel. It has

  • Dramatically widened the talent pool
  • Cut back the time to find the right people and get them started
  • Significantly reduced costs

Consultport is an excellent example of what online platforms may offer.

  • They have a detailed screening process. So you have access to a wide range of financial consultants, and you don’t have to do background checks.
  • They will speak to you to understand your needs and then handpick and shortlist candidates that closely match your requirements. This will generally take no more than 48 hours.
  • You can then communicate directly with the proposed candidates.
  • If you select one, Consultport will undertake the administrative details regarding contracts, payment arrangements and even quality control of the work. This means that you and the consultant can immediately get started on the job.
  • There are no strings attached to your search. The Consultport “no-risk, pay only if satisfied” policy means that the request, search, and proposal stages are entirely free of charge.

Correctly Onboarding

You will gain the full benefit of the time and expertise of interim appointments if you onboard them correctly.

Here are a few pointers:

Manage expectations

Ensure that you, your management team, and the CFO consultant are clear about the scope of work, deadlines, priorities and deliverables.

Communicate to your staff

Be as transparent as you can with staff to allay concerns about having an interim appointee and clarify the level of authority the person may have over them.

Provide the correct resources

Set up meetings with key personnel to provide the interim CFO with a broad overview of the company's functioning. Also, give immediate access to financial systems and documentation.

If in doubt, hire the person for a specific project first – perhaps a financial model or cash-flow projection. If you are not happy, it is easy to move on to someone else.

Find the Right Interim CFO For Your Company Needs

You might have an interim CFO job opening because you need a replacement while looking for someone permanent. Or you have a strategic project that requires additional high-level financial skills.

Finding the right CFO consultant for your job is critical, even though it is a short-term position.

Fortunately, outsourcing employment models and online consulting platforms have taken the guesswork and much of the time and cost out of this task.

Interim-CFOs are in high demand. Speak to Consultport to find the right one for your needs.